Tag Archive: New Years resolutions

Every New Year’s people make resolutions in an effort to start fresh, turn over a new leaf, and in some way, shape or form, improve their lives.  The most popular resolutions made in America today are usually health-related, so here is The Listening Center’s Top 10 New Year’s resolutions to improve your mental, emotional, and physical health in 2014:

1. Eat healthy, nutritious, whole foods.  Minimize processed foods and foods high in sugar, saturated fat and salt. If you regularly consume processed foods high in sugar, saturated fat, and salt, you have to fight even harder to stay balanced.  You have to fight against yourself.  Think of it this way.  Your body is like the car you drive.   If you regularly abuse it and starve it of the fuel it needs to function properly (i.e. essential vitamins and nutrients), then it simply will not be able to perform under any sort of pressure.   Everything is connected – our minds and our bodies are one.

2. Exercise regularly. Our bodies are meant to move.  A natural mood-booster, regular exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression.  It has also been shown to improve memory and brain power.

3. Commit to sleeping 7 – 8 hours a night, consistently. Lack of sleep is proven to cause great stress on the body, physically, mentally, and emotionally.   The importance of good sleep hygiene cannot be stressed enough.

4. Take a fish oil supplement daily. Omega-3s, found in fish oil, are essential amino acids that the body does not produce on its own and, therefore, must be consumed through the foods we eat and supplements we take.  People who don’t get enough omega-3s in their diet face an increased risk of developing conditions such as dementia, depression, attention-deficit disorder, dyslexia and schizophrenia.

5. Adopt a mindfulness practice such as meditation. Meditation has been proven to help relieve stress, manage chronic pain, help with depression and anxiety, as well as enhance feelings of compassion, calm, and peacefulness.

6. Spend time outdoors on a consistent basis. Time in Mother Nature has been shown to have a restorative effect and to help both attention and impulse control.  As a species, much of our evolution is rooted in our connection to the earth.  It is only in recent modern times that we have been disconnected from that source.

7. Practice the art of listening. So often, miscommunication is what leads to our daily stresses and relationship troubles.   Really listening and reflecting back what another has said to you will go a long way to improving your life and your relationships.

8. Begin a gratitude journal. It’s easy to lose sight of all your blessings, especially when you are going through tough times.  Keeping a journal in which you write five things each day that you are grateful for trains your mind to seek out gratitude moments throughout your daily life.

9. Live each day as if it were your last. Just as it is easy to lose sight of our blessings, it is also easy to lose perspective.  When you find yourself getting caught up in your sadness, depression, or anxiety, ask yourself, “How would I handle this if I knew today was the last day of my life?”  It may sound morbid, but it will quickly put things in perspective for you.

10. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Change is not comfortable.  It’s not supposed to be.  If you remain “comfortable” you will never successfully achieve any resolution you decide to adopt.  In those moments when it feels like your whole body is itching to go back to its old ways just for the sake of comfort, push through.  Remind yourself that the itch you feel is just a symptom of the change you are making and that it’s a good thing.

If you have made a New Year’s resolution in the past and were not successful at achieving it, you are not alone.  New Year’s resolutions as a whole do not have a very high success rate.  Yet, many of us still feel compelled to make them.  I, for one, am all for New Year’s resolutions.  Like many others, I consider the New Year an opportunity for a fresh start.  It naturally compels me to take stock of the past year and to set goals for the coming year.  This is not a bad thing for anyone.  It is important to set goals for yourself, which you can do at any time of the year of course, but the start of a new year is the time many of us choose to do so.

Before you feel discouraged by the low success rate of New Year’s resolutions, let me cheer you up with a couple of thoughts.  First, if you never make any resolutions at all because you think you’re bound to fail, then you are 100% guaranteed to fail.  You might as well increase those odds by making one.  One study found that 46 percent of individuals who made resolutions were successful compared to four percent who wanted to achieve a certain goal and considered it but didn’t actually create a resolution.[1] So, no matter what your success rate has been in the past with New Year’s resolutions, my best advice is to go ahead and make another one this year.  You have a much better chance of achieving your goal this way.

Here are some tips to help you succeed with your New Year’s resolution(s) this year:

1.  Be Thoughtful / Mindful in Making Your Resolution

If you are going to make a resolution this year, you might as well make it something that will truly effect positive change in your life.  Don’t just pick something arbitrary like: “I’m going to stop eating candy for 6 months.”  While essentially it is good to cut out candy, it is not a sustainable goal that will substantively change your life for the better.  Rather, it will be a very difficult resolution to adhere to and it will more than likely cause you to go on a candy gorge once you’re done, thus reversing any good the resolution did in the first place.  It’s important to take the time to look at your life with honest eyes and figure out what would be most beneficial to change or improve.  Bare in mind, it might not be the most obvious thing.  Ask yourself why you want to make the change.  If it is a reason that is highly motivating, this will help you stick to your resolve when the going gets tough.

2.  Start with One Thing

Don’t try to take on too much.  You can always add more goals as the year goes on.   We all have many things we’d like to improve about ourselves, but if we try to take them all on at once, we will feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of the task before us.

3.  Visualize Your Resolution

It will help you achieve your resolution if you take the time to meditate on it regularly and visualize it.  Who are you once you’ve achieved it?  What do you look like?  How do you speak?  How do you carry yourself?  How do you interact with others?  How do you interact with yourself?  What does your life look like?  Imagine an entire day in your life once you have achieved the goal.  The clearer and more detailed you visualize, the better.  Then, as you are working towards achieving your goal, do your best to be, act, speak, think and react like the “you” you visualized who had already achieved the goal.   This will help enormously.

4.  Write Your Resolution Down

Every expert out there on personal transformation and goal achievement speaks of the importance of writing your goals down on paper.  There is great power in doing this and it increases your odds of achieving your goals exponentially.

5.  Have a Plan

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”  I don’t know who said that first, but it’s the truth.  A lot of people will tell you to not aim too high with your resolution, but I do not necessarily agree.  I think it is important to think and dream big, but you need to have a plan with small achievable goals and action steps that will lead you to that big dream.  Otherwise, it will remain just that – a dream.

6.  Build In Accountability and Support

Tell EVERYONE your resolution.  You may want to keep it close to your chest for fear of failure and resulting embarrassment, but here’s the thing.  The people you tell, your support system, increase your chances of success by a million trillion – meaning, A LOT!  They will be there to pick you up when you fall down and make a mistake, or get off track.  They will help push you and challenge you to do your best always.  They will be there to help keep your hope up, your heart open, and your courage intact as you move towards your goal, your dream.   If you are someone who has trouble accepting help, I encourage you to be that support system to others also trying to succeed at their New Year’s resolution.  This way, it is a give and take relationship.  Also, it will serve to give you both perspectives, which should help you to be on the receiving end because you will fully understand how much the person helping you wants you to let them help.

7.  Think Outside the Box

Ok, so maybe, for instance, you’d like to lose weight.  And maybe, for instance, this has been your New Year’s resolution for two years running and you’ve only managed to gain weight.  Or, you lost some but gained it all back.  Instead of making the same old resolution, “I will lose X pounds by X date,” think of a different resolution that will help you achieve your ultimate goal – a healthy body at a healthy weight, for LIFE.  Maybe it’s, “I will keep a detailed food journal so I can understand my relationship with food.  I will record everything I consume and how it makes me feel.  I will also educate myself on nutrition, fitness, and the human body.”    This type of resolution will get you much closer to your ultimate goal of a healthy body with a healthy lifestyle than the former.  And it is also a very achievable resolution.

8.  Don’t Be Mean to Yourself

Remember always that the road to success is a journey, with many ups and downs, twists and curves.  Falls, setbacks, and mistakes are a guaranteed part of the journey.  It is extremely important that when these happen, you don’t beat yourself up about it.  Look at each mistake honestly so you can learn from it, but be kind and compassionate to yourself.  If you beat yourself up about your mistakes, it will cause you to lose hope and get discouraged.  Before you know it, you’ll have stopped trying to achieve your resolution because you no longer think you can.

9.  Reward Yourself

As important as it is to not beat yourself up when you make mistakes, it is equally important to reward yourself in some way when you achieve the small, measurable goals you’ve set out for yourself.  This will do a lot to keep your spirit up and keep you on the road to success.

10.  Keep Going No Matter What

YOU CANNOT FAIL.  I’ll say it again.  YOU CANNOT FAIL. You’ll make mistakes, get off track, and have many moments when you feel like you are failing, or have failed, at achieving your resolution.  But – and this is a BIG but – as along as you keep picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, forgiving yourself the fall, and moving forward, YOU CANNOT FAIL. So, KEEP GOING NO MATTER WHAT!

[1] http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/12/28/why-we-make-new-years-resolutions/

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